About The Giggle Guide™
The Internet is the world’s largest library. It’s just that all the books are on the floor.John Allen Paulos”
If you’ve ever searched the Web looking for concise information on today’s children’s market, then you’ve felt pain. Even the “best” results make you wonder if you’ve traveled back in time and lost all ability to navigate with your mouse. We know the feeling all too well, as we’ve been immersed in the industry as business owners for the last 5 years. We think it’s time for a change, and that is what The Giggle Guide® is all about — tools to help today’s children’s industry organize, advertise, communicate, and grow.
How We Got Here
In 1994 the Internet, as we know it today, was in its infancy. It offered the promise of instant information, global communication, online shopping, and endless opportunity. The Gen-X equivalent of the Industrial Revolution was at hand, and everyone saw change coming. Well, almost everyone did. (By the way, that author currently sells glass bottles online.)
1994 was also the year that Leesa Valentino and I (James Pooton) started our first business together — an Internet Service Provider in Kalispell, Montana known as DigiSys. Over the next 5 years we grew the business to over 9,000 accounts with the help of 24 talented young employees. The Web development side of the business also grew to service hundreds of customers ranging from small home businesses, to USA Today and several foreign governments. Time after time, we saw first hand how Internet applications could radically streamline processes, solve business problems, and accelerate growth.
Moving forward to 1999, we sold Digisys to CenturyTel, a large telecommunications company based in Louisiana. After the sale, we worked managing a team of 33 Web developers at CenturyTel, until entrepreneurial yearning overcame us once again. Opting for a little change of scenery, we established a line of children’s shoes in 2004 which remains a recognized brand in children’s retail outlets worldwide.
Which brings us to today, and The Giggle Guide® as the next chapter being written. It’s not hard to see how we got here. We’ve taken our long standing interest in Internet technology and put it to work for an industry we love. That’s how The Giggle Guide® was born, and that’s why there are so many hearts throughout the site!
Who We Are
Leesa Valentino, Editor/Publisher
It is ironic I ended up in the Children’s industry as all six of my children have fur. I have 3 dogs and 3 cats. It must be the “kid in me” that drew me to it. To quote my little friend, Elise Sabin, age 4, “Mama, Leesa is just a kid trapped in a bigger person’s body.”
I know I live in the right place for me. Every time I step off the plane I am rejuvenated. One of the best reasons for living in Montana is the wide variety of activities. If I am not working, chances are, I am out enjoy all the things to do, skiing (both summer and winter), rafting, camping, traveling and of course, The REDSKINS (my addiction). My friends call me TV illiterate since it’s the last thing I turn on.
With The Giggle Guide®, I have the perfect mix of what I love about the Children’s industry, and my passion for computers and the Internet. Over the last year of building The Giggle Guide®, my enthusiasm for the project has grown each day, just ask James. In the last few weeks, our Editorial Director David Gaunt and I have been bursting at the seams to share it with the community. For some reason, life keeps teaching me that all good things are worth waiting for. The Giggle Guide® is no different.
James Pooton, “The Giggle Geek”
I came to Montana in 1993, looking for a winter of “ski bumming” with friends after graduating with an honors degree in Electrical Engineering from the Univerisity Of Minnesota Institute of Technology. 16 years later, I’m still here and have 3 pairs of skis in the garage, but I’ve still never done any formal Electrical Engineering work. I believe that is what’s known as a true Montana Success Story™.
I live in foothills of the majestic Swan Mountain range, in the small town of Creston, Montana with my wife Julie, daughter Taylor, son Ryan (in the Google hat), and dog Katie (a husky / blue heeler mix). We’re also joined by the various creatures who live in the woods around us. Deer, bear, coyote, fox, hawks, eagles, humming birds and woodpeckers (grr) are the common visitors.
Finally, I am the “computer guy” here at The Giggle Guide®. I truly love technology and follow it very closely. I enjoy spending time with PHP, jQuery, Drupal, Linux and all the other amazing Internet tools available today. My other passions are cooking, photography, graphic design, music, high end audio/video and motorcycling.
David Gaunt, Editorial Director
I have been working in and around the juvenile product and children’s fashion industry for over 30 years, mostly on the creative and marketing side. ( I know, I don’t look or sound that old!) I spent over twenty years as a partner in the advertising/marketing agency, Gaunt/Dore/Snyder. I have always been the “copywriting guy.” Slogans are my game, word play is my fame. For the past several years, I was one of the “faces” of Earnshaw’s, as Marketing Director and regional Advertising Sales Manager. Some of you read my Advantage newsletters about marketing tips on a regular basis. I love meeting and working with people . But need to restrain my “gift of gab!” I am so excited to be part of The Giggle Guide® team. We are having fun, working hard to make the site great! I enjoy writing, but always hesitate saying that I am a Writer because I only write for work. Copy for hire! My Blog on The Giggle Guide® provides me a more personal voice — like having an invisible soap box where I can take a stand and share with you from my heart and common-sense ability!
I am an ordinary guy that has done some extraordinary things. Some of my personal trivia includes being picked twice as the bachelor on The Dating Game in the late 60’s. (Went to the Carnival in Rio and the Grand Canyon). Two years ago I was sitting in the audience of the TV-show “National Bingo Night” and won $5,000. I auditioned to be Dennis on the Dennis the Menace TV show, sang in a boys’ choir and appeared in professional stagings of Tosca, Carmen and LaBoheme. Once won a stereo in a dance contest televised at the beach. But I did not even have a dance partner! Backpacked through Europe for an entire summer after graduating from UCLA, by myself! Can tell you what shows to see on Broadway. And what deals to get in Vegas!
I should have something to call my hobby, but I don’t. I do like music, TV, movies, people watching, spending time with my adult kids, camping, anything with my wife, Nadine, my two dogs and dumb bird. I hope to see you again, or meet you during the trade show season.
I try to see humor in everyday life. If we have dinner together, we’ll have lots of laughs.
And I probably giggle more than a man my age should!
Hidden Away In The Last Best Place
The offices for The Giggle Guide® are located in Kalispell, Montana, the county seat of Flathead County and the trade center for Northwest Montana. The valley is surrounded by pristine mountains, lakes and breath-taking wilderness, including the nation’s Crown Jewel—Glacier National Park. By virtue of our environment and our profession, we experience a remarkable synergy between two different worlds — that of high technology and natural beauty. We’re lucky to live here, while remaining so close to the modern world; it’s a healthy balance.